Clive Davis Cites Frustration With New Musicals as Inspiration for My Fair Lady Revival

By Adam Hetrick
24 Apr 2014

In a new guest column published in the Hollywood Reporter, Grammy Award-winning producer Clive Davis cited a dearth in new musicals — as compared to the quality of those written by Rodgers and Hammerstein — as the impetus behind his plans for a 2014 Broadway revival of My Fair Lady.



As previously reported, Davis stated that Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sherr (South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza, The Bridges of Madison County) had been tapped to helm a Broadway revival of the Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe musical based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion.

Producers Roger Berlind, Scott Landis and the Nederlander Organization are attached to the revival. Casting and an opening night have not been announced; however, Davis previously stated that he hoped Academy Award winners Anne Hathaway ("Les Misérables") and Colin Firth ("The King's Speech") will star as Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins, respectively.

In the column, Davis described the impact that the scores to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals Oklahoma! and Carousel had on him, characterizing the shows as having "one incredible song, one future classic, after another."

Davis went on to reveal that part of his initial goal when founding Arista Records in 1974 was to record Broadway cast albums and to release pop singles from their scores akin to the 1960s radio hits including Robert Goulet's "On the Street Where You Live," Barbra Streisand's "People" and Louis Armstrong's "Hello, Dolly!" Davis did record the original Broadway cast album of Kander and Ebb's Chicago.

"But things changed," Davis wrote. "Yes, Manilow recorded 'Memory' from Cats and Whitney recorded 'I Know Him So Well' from the musical Chess, but there was no new musical being written that contained a rich body of musical gems destined to be classics."

Davis went on to express his frustration with the quality of new musicals that are being produced on Broadway today, citing three hit shows that won Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Musical. "I would listen to the songs of The Producers, Hairspray, The Book of Mormon, all promising to be hit Broadway shows, but none giving birth in profusion to songs that would be part of our generation's legacy," he wrote.

Davis stated that when he realized it was unlikely that there were more musicals like Oklahoma! and Carousel out there for him to produce, he turned to celebrating the genre of "the vintage Broadway musical, by reviving what could be considered the greatest musical of all time: My Fair Lady. What music! With that special combination of literate, incisive, penetrating lyrics and glorious, wonderful melodies."